This day in baseball: First catcher’s mask

On February 12, 1878, Harvard captain Fredrick Thayer received a patent for the first catcher’s mask.  Thayer invented the mask for Harvard’s catcher, James Tyng, who apparently was a bit skittish, in spite of his talent.  The mask was adapted from a fencing mask, with eyes holes that supported a series of pads made from animal skins.  The catcher’s mask caught on quickly among pros and amateurs alike and was in wide use by the 1880s.


Vic Willis wearing a catcher’s mask, circa 1900 (Wikimedia Commons)


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